Quinoa is an excellent replacement to the pasta in many dishes with the main advantage of it being gluten-free. Quinoa is seen by many as a “superfood” due to its high protein content and lower levels of “bad” carbohydrates. It absorbs the flavours its cooked in, and maintains a nice soft pasta-like texture even when reheated in my experience.
This dish was very filling, and felt almost like it was a Chicken Lasagne in terms of its overall taste – I adjusted the original recipe due to available ingredients and was very happy with the result. I reckon that adding a layer of tortilla chips, gluten-free of course, to the top before the cheese would add another interesting element to the dish.
Recipe: Chicken and Quinoa Cheddar Bake
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 large Onion, diced
5 cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
2 cans Chopped Tomato
1 Tbsp. Red Pepper Flakes
1 Tsp. Ground Oregano
1 Tsp. Dried Basil
2 cups Quinoa (dried)
4 cups chicken stock
6 Chicken Breasts.
3 cups grated Mature Cheddar Cheese (more or less dependent on size of baking dish and how cheesy you like it!)
Salt & Pepper to taste.
Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 5.
Cook the Chicken:
On an oiled griddle pan cook 6 chicken breasts over a medium flame. Flip the breasts periodically to get a nice crisp outside. Once cooked, allow to cool slightly and then slice breasts into 1cm strips and set aside.
Make the Bake Sauce:
Heat a large wok over a medium heat, and add the oil. Stir in the Onion and cook, stirring frequently, until tender. Add the minced Garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds. Add the Balsamic Vinegar, scraping anything off the bottom of the pan, and cook until it’s almost fully absorbed.
Add the Chopped Tomatoes, Red Pepper Flakes, Basil, Oregano, and Salt and Pepper to taste. Bring to a low boil, and then simmer while you prepare the rest of the meal.
Make the Quinoa:
Place the Quinoa in a mesh strainer, and rinse thoroughly with cold water.
Place the Quinoa and Chicken Stock in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover with a lid, and simmer until cooked, about 20 minutes. Once cooked drain away the excess stock, the flavour will now be nicely absorbed by the Quinoa!
Cook the Bake!
In a large bowl, combine the Quinoa and Chicken with theBake Sauce and mix thoroughly.
Place half the mixture in the baking dish, and sprinkle the dish with a thin layer of the Mature Cheddar Cheese. Top with the remaining mixture. Sprinkle the top with more cheese so that it is covered thoroughly.
Cover with foil and bake for about 15 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until cheese is lightly browned and bubbly, about 15 more minutes.